The resounding victory of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, in a recall election earlier this year has caused the head of the nation’s largest labor union to change his game plan.
“The lesson I learned is that I don’t think recalls are the way to go,” said Dennis Van Roekel, president of the 3 million-member National Education Association, told The Washington Times on Wednesday.
“For many people, the way they view a recall, you have to be very careful” with using it against elected officials with whom you disagree.
Mr. Walker, who angered the NEA, other labor unions and Democrats with his effort to strip public workers of some of their collective bargaining rights, soundly defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barret by about 7 percentage points, an even larger margin of victory than his first gubernatorial win in 2010.
Mr. Van Roekel argues that the people of Wisconsin backed the incumbent not because they agreed with his policy moves, but rather because they frowned on the general idea of recalling an official they’d elected just 18 months earlier.
Exit polling showed that a vast majority of Wisconsin voters oppose using the recall tool to remove officials, and Mr. Van Roekel believes the NEA and other organizations are better off pushing ballot measures or other methods of changing specific policies, as opposed to removing an elected figure from office.